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East Grand Forks home is nearly a finished project

Though it's common for new-home construction to take longer than expected, it's likely that the ranch-style house on Greenway Boulevard in East Grand Forks will be completed by its mid-May deadline.

Though it's common for new-home construction to take longer than expected, it's likely that the ranch-style house on Greenway Boulevard in East Grand Forks will be completed by its mid-May deadline.

That's because the Northland Community Technical College carpentry students who are building it graduate May 16. Construction of a house from the ground up is annual joint project of Northland Community Technical College in East Grand Forks and the Forx Home Builders Association. Work on the home begins in September after school begins and ends in mid-May before graduation.

Seventeen carpentry students are working on the project, which Loren Abel, Northland Community and Technical College carpentry instructor, oversees. Students in the colleges of electrical and plumbing and heating, ventilating and air conditioning provide those services in the home.

Hands-on work

The construction project is designed to give students on-the-job experience and teach them the skills they will need to land a job after graduation. Without those skills, men and women are likely to be setting up scaffolding or at the end of a shovel doing unskilled labor.


"The years of working for someone and learning the trade are gone away," Abel said. Instead, contractors want to hire someone who not only possesses carpentry skills, but who, within six months or a year are able to oversee another worker.

"Demand is high," Abel said. "We don't have enough graduates to fill the supply."

This is the 23rd house that students have built. Over the years house designs have ranged from split level to two-story handicapped-accessible to ranch homes. A prevalent feature in all of them has been energy efficiency. This year, for example, the home's basement is an insulated concrete form or ICF, which has an 8-inch wall with foam on either side.

The students strive to complete the majority of the exterior work before extreme cold weather sets in.

"It's the goal to be enclosed before Christmas," Abel said. The students achieved that goal this school year.

This past week students were working on finishing work such as installing cabinets. The house was a buzz with activity as students, measured, drilled holes and tightened screws.


The 1,660-square-foot house features maple cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms and flat-panel doors throughout the house. The three-bedroom house includes a master suite with adjoining bathroom and a main bath.


The master bedroom, which is 12-by-14 feet, features a large, lighted walk-in closet. The bath, meanwhile, has a ceramic tile floor, walk-in shower with a body sprayer and two vanities. The dressing vanity and vanity surrounding the sink each have pendant lights. A pocket door separates the stool from the main part of the master bath.

The great room, dining room and living room separate the master bath from the other two bedrooms, which are 11-by-12 feet. The dining room/great room has an 11-foot vaulted ceiling and the adjacent kitchen features a 45-degree island, small pantry, built-in microwave, dishwasher, refrigerator and stove.

As the project winds down, Abel acknowledges he is feeling deadline pressure, but is confident that with the way things are going, it should be completed by graduation.

"We should be in pretty good shape."

Bailey writes for special features sections. Reach her at (701) 787-6753; (800) 477-6572, ext. 753; or send e-mail to abailey@gfherald.com .

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